With an unique store concept and a converted 1960s house, Rave On Vintage has rolled onto the Austin vintage store scene. But owners Mike Hooker and Chelsea Wine definitely aren't new to the game and this time on Vintage Views, we have a chat with Mike about a number of things, including there being power in numbers for friendly vintage stores.
Tell us a little bit about Rave On Vintage. Do you have a specialty or do you sell anything that's vintage?
Our main focus is mid-century modern but we also carry bits of deco, industrial and other styles leading into the 1970s. Honestly, we buy what we like and hope others dig it too. Chelsea and I have always had a love for the style, music and culture of the 1950s and 60s and I think that’s apparent not only in the items we carry but in the overall aesthetic of our shop from the music we play to the way we display things and the manner in which we greet and assist our customers. We want people visiting our store to have a fun and memorable experience. And if they go home with their new favorite piece, all the better!
You used to be vendors at Hog Wild Vintage. Why did you decide to make the leap from vendor to vintage store owner?
It actually wasn’t our intention to open a store, at least not at the time we did. We had a good thing going at Hog Wild and then one day the owner announced he was retiring and leasing out the building. We briefly explored the option of being vendors at another space but ultimately decided we needed to go all in and have complete control of our own store if we wanted to continue being in this business. We opened our doors less than two months later and couldn’t be happier with our decision. It’s much more personal now. Before we just dropped items off at Hog Wild and picked up checks, which was great, but now we’re able to interact and build relationships with our customers, which is very rewarding.
It’s great. Two other former vendors from Hog Wild wanted to join us so that really worked out well. We knew they had a good eye for vintage and were dependable so we wanted them on board. In December we added another vendor who concentrates on vintage clothing and has done a wonderful job expanding that area. I think everyone brings something unique to the table and helps make us a well-rounded store.
You're located on North Loop, probably the most famous vintage shopping hub in Austin. Is there strength in numbers with vintage stores?
Absolutely! We knew we wanted to stay on North Loop and being on the cross route between many established shops has been beneficial for walk-in traffic but what has really impressed us is the support we’ve gotten from other area shops like Uptown Modern, Remixologie and Room Service. I couldn’t tell you how many customers have told us they came in at the recommendation of another shop. I’m so thankful that everyone has been so welcoming and supportive of us. Of course, we do our best to return the favor. I think only positive can come from that.
Your store is an old house, and each room is properly furnished with the items you’re selling. It's a pretty unique shopping experience. Did you find the space and then come up with the concept, or have the concept and go out house hunting?
We definitely had a vision of what we wanted our shop to be and were thrilled to find the space we’re in. The house was built in the 60s, it’s in a great location, there’s plenty of parking in the back and it has great lighting which were all pluses. We liked the idea of a converted house so we could stage rooms and give people more of an idea how things will work in a real home setting. The layout allows all the vendors to have their own areas and we share the kitchen and wet bar areas to keep those items together.
Have you seen any trends in vintage items people are looking for, either designer, style or type of piece ?
It seems to go in waves. For a while we had five people a day asking for credenzas to use as TV stands. Then everyone wanted nightstands, then bookcases, now it’s desks. Who knows what tomorrow will bring. I think so long as it’s stylish, functional and in good condition, people will continue buying vintage. I’d have to say shell chairs and anything from the Broyhill Brasilia line are among our quickest sellers though.
That’s a tough one. We’ve had so many amazing pieces come through and we continue to find things all the time that blow our minds. I’m usually most impressed by Danish-designed stuff because of the lines and craftsmanship.
And what's your favorite piece in your home?
We have a 1964 ranch that’s done up modestly and tastefully. We don’t have a lot of expensive designer show pieces, just things that are practical to us, and usually picked up on the cheap. Choosing one single piece would be difficult, but I’d say my favorite area in our home is our formal living room (a.k.a. my record room). It has a lovely grass cloth accent wall and some of my favorite pieces in there would be this really cool Kroehler pink lounge chair that we found for $15 at a Goodwill in east Texas and a beautiful Danish-style lounge chair that we still haven’t been able to identify. The adjoining dining area is separated by an incredible metal room divider with two hanging red and blue globes. We have a Burke tulip table and chairs and a Brasilia china hutch in there, which I’m very fond of.
Finally, do you have any tips for people doing their own hunting at estate sales and flea markets?
It’s gotten difficult to find great deals in Austin because MCM is so popular and so many sellers are hip to that, which is why we travel the country regularly for the majority of our finds. But I gotta say, if you come across something you love and you’re willing to pay the asking price, don’t hesitate. Go ahead and get it. We’ve had numerous instances in our store where someone came back to get a piece they were eyeballing the day before only to find it gone. If you love it, buy it!
Rave On Vintage
1509 W North Loop Blvd.
Austin, TX 78756